Brent steadies ahead of Federal Reserve decision

by on September 13, 2012 4:29 am BST

Pressure on oil prices from an unexpected rise in US crude stockpiles was offset by geopolitical risks in Opec member Libya and rising hopes that the euro zone’s rescue fund will soon take effect.

Brent’s front-month October contract, which expires at the end of Thursday’s session, eased six cents to $115.90 a barrel, after rising 56 cents the previous session. US crude rose four cents to $97.05 a barrel.

“There will likely be a boost in oil futures as a result of the decision, if indeed the Fed goes ahead with further quantitative easing,” said Victor Shum, a senior partner at oil consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

“We also have this killing of the US ambassador to Libya yesterday adding a bit of geopolitical risk to the mix.”

The Fed ends its two-day meeting later on Thursday with the policy result expected to be released later the same day which will be followed by Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference.

A Reuters poll showed economists raised their bets of a third round of Fed bond buying known as quantitative easing to 65% from 60% in August.

Oil prices came under pressure from an unexpected rise in crude stockpiles in top consumer the United States.

Domestic stocks of US crude rose 1.99 million barrels to 359.09 million barrels in the week ended 7 September, the Energy Information Administration reported. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a draw of 2.6 million barrels.

Losses were limited though by violent anti-US protests in Libya and Egypt, sparked by a film that attackers said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

President Barack Obama branded the attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans as “outrageous” and vowed to track down the perpetrators, while ordering a tightening of diplomatic security worldwide.

The US military is moving two Navy destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets, according to a US official.

The latest in the euro zone’s debt crisis also provided support to oil prices.

Germany’s Constitutional Court gave a green light on Wednesday for the country to ratify the euro zone’s new bailout fund and budget pact, helping to boost global stocks and the euro currency.